12:55 pm EDT, July 10, 2015

James Dashner, Wes Ball discuss ‘Scorch Trials’: ‘We don’t make changes lightly’

We had the chance to watch the first 30 minutes of Scorch Trials and attend a Q&A session with Wes Ball and James Dashner. Check out our wrap-up here!

This has light spoilers from the first 30 minutes of The Scorch Trials. We will be discussing what we saw of the movie, and then following that up with the Q&A between the author and director.

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The first 30 minutes

The opening of Scorch Trials does not follow the book word for word. In fact, it’s quite different from the novel. The movie opens with a young Thomas and his mother, followed by present-day Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) having a nightmare. There’s a nod to fan-favorite character Chuck and then almost immediately jumps into meeting Ratman, played by Aidan Gillen, who says they’ve been rescued from the Maze and have found sanctuary.

Gillen perfectly portrays Ratman in the movie. His performance is subtle. You want to believe the kind and trusting words coming out of his mouth, but there’s just something about him that you can quite trust. (Or maybe we’ve just watched too much Game of Thrones.)

“Whose side are you on?” Ratman asks, and this is a theme that will play through the rest of the opening 30 minutes, as Thomas refuses to trust any of the adults — especially when Teresa continues to be escorted from one test to the next, and Thomas is not allowed to see her.

We’re also quickly introduced to Aris (Jacob Lofland), who convinced Thomas to follow him through the vents in order to prove that something fishy is going on at the compound. They finally finagle their way into the room where the adults have been taking the other survivors, and the truth comes out: W.C.K.D. is behind everything.

In the final moments of the first 30 minutes, Thomas and his group escape from the compound in a scene that is as intense (if not more so!) than in The Maze Runner when Thomas ran through the closing doors and into the Maze after Alby and Minho.

And now the kids have entered the Scorch.

Scorch Trials Thomas

Q&A with Wes Ball and James Dashner

The first thing we were told was that yes, they are aware that the beginning of the movie is not like the beginning of the book. “It’s kind of a blend,” Dashner says. “There are some things from the third book that are pulled into this. And if you know how the third book starts, it’s very similar to what you just saw.”

Dashner continues, “I think Wes and the team has done just a fantastic job of just taking the second and third books, kind of putting them into a blender, and pouring them out into two perfect movies.”

Speaking of the escape sequence and explaining why the changes were necessary, Ball says, “As a movie, we need that kind of intensity and that kind of excitement. You need that for a cinematic experience, and unfortunately in the book, which you can get away with, you can have [Ratman] just sort of send them off on this task, and it’s fine, it works. But in a movie, that’s kind of death because it means your main characters are not active. They’re not actually making these choices.

“So that was the big reason for us, and that’s probably the only big change in the whole movie. Our characters are now on the run from W.C.K.D., having escaped, having learned the truth about why they’re there, and it basically echoes from the first movie, the small changes we made there. So we think we made the hard choices. It was not an easy choice to change James’ stuff in the book, but we thought we made the right choices for a good movie, basically. And that’s the problem, they’re two very separate things, so the two different forms, they kind of require different things, basically, cinematically.”

Reassuring the fans, Ball says, “What you’ll see though, is that they still leave W.C.K.D. They still travel through the Scorch. They meet some of your favorite characters. A lot of your favorite things that are in those books are in this movie, they’re just slightly rearranged. So we always kind of like to say on set, ‘We’re working with the same ingredients, but we have a slightly different recipe.’ And the other big cool thing about this is when we started out on this thing, we kind of know going in that we’re going to make a third one, so that’s the beauty of having the success of the first one, so we get to really now plan out what the conclusion is going to be, so we actually get to set stuff up in this movie that we can pay off in the third one, so it’s going to be a nice, awesome trilogy that’s going to feel great to watch through one after the other, kind of like the way this one opened up basically right where the last one […] ended, so it’s kind of an exciting way to approach these movies.”


Another reason they decided to change the way they opened the movie was because they wanted to have Teresa front and center more than she was in the book. “We get to do that character, Teresa, a great service in this movie,” Ball says. “The thing that I’m not going to give away here, but maybe something [you’re] expecting that Teresa does might still happen, and maybe in a very cool, dramatic way, but I think you’re going to be happy.”

“We don’t make these changes lightly,” Ball reassures everyone.

Luckily, we already know there’s going to be a third movie in this trilogy. “We’re working on the script right now,” Ball says. He confirmed they’ll probably be shooting in February for a February 17, 2017 release date.

Concluding the Q&A, Ball says, “This is the smallest part of the movie. Everything else is way bigger.” Dasher confirms this, saying that they’re out into the elements now and that’s when things begin to really go down.

Ball’s parting words continue to reassure hesitant fans: “Go in with an open mind because I know you guys are going to enjoy this movie. It’s a fun one.”

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